Highway to heaven
The best time to visit Shangri-La is between April and October; the city mostly shuts down during the frigid winter months. Its annual horse-racing festival in mid-late June is especially popular, when Shangri-La is flooded with tourists and Tibetans from the surrounding area.
There are no direct flights from Hong Kong to Shangri-La, but China Eastern Airlines and Dragonair fly daily to Kunming, from where there are four flights a day to Shangri-La during the peak season.
Hourly buses make the 4 1/2hour journey from Lijiang to Shangri-La for 40 yuan (HK$46). There are also four buses a day from Kunming (213 yuan), although it is an 11-hour trip.
Songtsam Retreat (0887-828 5555, http://www.songtsam.com/eng). Nestled in the hills close to Songzanlin Monastery, this upmarket hotel has rooms decorated in Tibetan-style and a spa.
Banyan Tree Ringha (0887-828 8822, www.banyantree.com), 40 minutes outside Shangri-La, this is the most luxurious of the area's hotels and resorts
Kevin's Trekker Inn (0887-822 8178, www.kevintrekker.inn.com) is the first choice for backpackers.
There is also an increasing number of bland budget and mid-range hotels.